I did some math over the weekend, and discovered I am on Day 133 of my personal isolation (yes, you read that number right). Granted, during that time, I did leave my house to see family occasionally, to go to the grocery store every two-three weeks, and to go to a young adult church every week on Tuesday evenings. But most of my time was spent at home, wishing I could be out, as a functioning member of society. The nature of my situation is a long story with a lot of emotions tied into it, but I’m beginning to realize that, with my prolonged isolation, I bring a unique perspective to the present global social distancing and isolation orders. [To clarify: my isolation was due in part to not having a job, and was due as well to my husband driving the better of our two vehicles for work, which left me at home with a car we were afraid might not start.] Though I know every person’s situation is different and unique, I wanted to share the things that have been really helpful for me during this time.
Grieve. This is so important; mourn the things that are no longer possible, are being cancelled/postponed, and are being left in the dust. There are people in my life who are missing their college graduation, their high school graduation, their wedding, prom, trips, etc. I know this stings. Grieve the loss of these occasions, because mourning allows for greater healing; trust me. Also, grieve your future that is now greatly altered, due to finances, employment, etc. Grieving what could have been allows what will be to be more enjoyable.
Find something that calms you, and helps you sleep. I know anxiety is really high right now, for a lot of people, for a lot of things. Find something that eases that for a period of time, and helps you sleep. Be it yoga, meditation, listening/playing worship music, what have you. I use ASMR to fall asleep, and though some nights it doesn’t work as well, it always helps me to sleep quickly and deeply. (This is the current channel and video I am using to sleep.)
Get in the habit in the morning to do something that sets the tone for the day. Recently, I’ve been waking up and putting on worship music for about 15 minutes while waiting for my second alarm to go off, and while I get ready for work (I’m working from home, by the way). Even if I’m all but falling back asleep, hearing this music clears away any feelings left over from my dreams, helps me to calm down before my day begins, and grounds me for the day.
Find something that brings you joy, and use it frequently. I watch a lot of Good Mythical Morning (with Rhett and Link) and a lot of the subsequent compilations. These make me laugh, a lot, and are great distractors. I also really like Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey”, and I found a bunch of people reacting to this on YouTube; this is a beautiful song and it really makes me happy to see more people experience this song for the first time. John Krasinski’s Some Good News is also quite wonderful and I cried for both episodes.
Get outside. Golly, this is important. Even if it’s just sitting on the front porch reading/sitting around a campfire/going for a walk. If you feel uncomfortable spending time outside in any capacity, then buy some flowers the next time you go to the grocery store. There is tons of research that indicate being around nature in any capacity does wonders for your brain health. On a personal note, my husband and I led a missions trip to Kona, Hawaii in the middle of February. Not only had I hardly left the house leading up to the trip, but the weather wasn’t great where I lived either. I had a few mental, emotional, and spiritual breakdowns the days leading up to the trip, but the first full day in Kona did wonders for my mental health. Get outside.
Check up on your friends and family who live by themselves, including those that are quarantined. And really, open yourself for honest conversations. Please don’t let anyone get by by saying “We’re just hanging in.”. Sometimes people use “I’m fine” as a mask to hid what they’re feeling; please respond with “No you’re not/I can see you aren’t”. This simple sentence gives those hiding permission to be honest and open with what they are feeling. Also, those of us that work in human services and the mental health field are concerned about the suicide rates during this time — check on your friends and family.
Reconsider social media. Prior to Kona, I had my social media on my phone, and truly, it served as a source of envy, jealousy, and comparison for me. In Kona, for a number of reasons, I cleared all social media apps off my phone, and logged out of my accounts, being only able to access them from an internet browser. Up until the week before Easter, I hadn’t been on social media since the middle of February. And just like being outside, this did wonders for my mental health. Yes, I know social media serves as important connections between people, especially now, but please do not let that override your mental health. Reconsider time on social media if seeing what others are posting is making you ungrateful, discontent, envious, jealous, angry, etc. Your peace is wrapped in how well you live your situation, not in the friends/followers/subscribers you have.
Extend grace. There are going to be days when you are pumped and ready to clean the whole house, reorganize everything, and are incredibly productive. There are also going to be days when you can’t get off the couch. Extend grace. There are going to be times when you get along great with those you live with, and there are going to be times you don’t. Extend grace. There are going to be days you meet all your set expectations, and there will be days where you don’t. Extend grace. This is a fundamentally trying time right now and grace is a precious commodity.
Look for jobs online. While I was looking for a job, I searched all over job listing for jobs I could do online. And now, even though I have a job and am working from home, a little extra income never hurts. Here are some online jobs for those looking to work: Go Transcript; Writer’s Work; tons of online tutoring positions, some requiring experience/credentials, some not (like VIPKid; I’m in the second round of interviews for YiYiEnglish), taking surveys online (though, these do take time for limited small payouts), and even Fiverr or Etsy if you want to start a small business.
In closing, I just want to leave you with some of the worship songs that carried me through that really dark purgatory and are still filling me with hope:
Prophecy Your Promise // Awake My Soul // Seasons // Defender // Simple Pursuit // Pieces // Throne Room Song // So Will I (100 Billion X) // Surrounded (Fight My Battles) // Goodness of God // God and God Alone // Another in the Fire // Yes and Amen
Ciao for now, and stay safe,